Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Anglophilia: why Diane Roberts Hates Andrew Jackson

Is it really a surprise that Diane Roberts, an Oxford University grad, BBC contributor and enthusiastic Anglophile, would enter the debate over the $20 bill by denouncing Andrew Jackson, America's first Irish president, who gave the British a drubbing at the Battle of New Orleans.

South of the Mason-Dixon line they never really liked the Irish, especially the Catholic kind.  In some parts of the South they have never gotten over John Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, forcing them to enroll James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.

The Brits and Ms. Roberts employer, the BBC, have never forgiven Jackson for drubbing them at the Battle of New Orleans.   Jackson for his part hated the Brits and with good reason.  Jackson's father had to flee Ireland because he'd belonged to the anti-British United Irishmen movement.  Jackson lost his mother and a brother during the Revolutionary War and for a time was himself held prisoner by the British.   Not without cause Jackson believed the British instigated much of the trouble between Native Americans and the infant United States.  

Most of America's founding fathers were slaveholders, including Washington, Jefferson and Madison.  It's hard to think of an 18th or 19th century American who wasn't involved in Indian removals and Indian wars.   George Washington fought the French and Indians on behalf of the British.  During the Revolutionary War, Washington ordered scores of Iroquois villages burned to the ground because the Iroquois sided with the British.   It's no secret that Lincoln fought the Indians while fighting the Confederates.  The same U.S. militia that battled the Confederates in New Mexico was responsible for the Sand River Massacre in Colorado in 1864.  Lincoln also fought the Sioux  in Minnesota and had scores of the Indian rebels hung.  Grant was George Armstrong Custer's boss and, under Grant, Sheridan waged a brilliant, but ruthless, winter war to bring the Southern Plains Indians to bay.  Yet, Roberts singles out Jackson for opprobrium, clearly Anglophilia run amok. 

While condemning Jackson in this politically charged debate over pictures on currency, Jackson's Anglophile enemies won't acknowledge that Jackson saved America during its first secession crisis, when South Carolina tried to nullify U.S. law, threatening to leave the Union if it didn't get its way.  Jackson's response was:  try that and I'll personally lead an army down there and hang you all for treason. 

Nor will Jackson's Anglophile detractors admit that Jackson pushed American away from political and economic oligarchy toward real democracy.  Jackson gave the boot to Northeastern and British elites who wanted to control America's government and its banks.

Finally, Jackson's Anglophile detractors won't admit that Jackson inherited a mess from his predecessors.   Jefferson, for example, said: don't force the Indians to give up their land; just sell them goods on credit and the Indians will have to pay off their debts by selling their land to you.   By the time Jackson took office, Indians in the South still held onto a patchwork of lands and there was widespread and bloody skirmishing with white settlers over what remained.  When Jackson negotiated treaties for Indians to exchange their lands for lands west of the Mississippi, the Indians weren't happy, but they left peacefully of their own volition, concluding they'd be safer with a big river between them and the white land schemers.   It wasn't until the Van Buren administration that force was used to remove the remaining Native Americans their Southern lands.  The Anglophiles would rather blame Jackson, who had two adoped Native American sons, for genocide than stick to the facts.